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Supercars

Aston Martin Valkyrie AMR Pro: Harris drives the track-only racer

Road-going Valkyrie not quite extreme enough for you? You’ll be wanting the AMR Pro then

Published: 11 Apr 2023

Let’s be clear: an Aston Martin Vanquish from 2001 has more in common with a Ford Mondeo than the Valkyrie AMR Pro has with the ‘standard’ Valkyrie. The humble Ford repmobile donated its engine (well, two of them stuck together) and many interior trim pieces. The AMR Pro and its namesake share only that V12, plus the headlights. 

Side by side this track-only monster does its more civilised relative many aesthetic favours. The Pro is longer, lower, wider and looks like the racing car it should have been. And like all racing cars once the initial shock of how large a shadow it casts is normalised, it quickly becomes just a racing car. No, I’m not saying the Pro looks anything other than stupefyingly sexy, but the road car is on another level completely.

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Those dimensions? It’s 380mm longer in the wheelbase, 266mm longer overall and, at the front, has 96mm more track and is 115mm wider in total. Dimensionally, it’s a different vehicle. Power comes from the same 6.5-litre V12, although this time with no fancy hybridity. Power output is 1,001bhp, and the car weighs 1,006kg – some 300kg less than the one with numberplates. 

Inside it’s pure racer. Race dash, race seat, and nowhere to hide your left foot to the side of the brake pedal. AMR Pro owners need to learn to left foot brake. The start procedure is complicated and a little bizarre. To protect owners from the potentially pernicious behaviour of a carbon clutch, the Pro effectively bump starts itself every time it gets going. A small electric motor on the back of the gearbox nudges it along to about 25mph, then the ICE uses that forward energy to burst into life. At the start of a day driving the car I thought it was absolute folly and certain to go wrong. By the end I was thankful to have been protected from an angry clutch pedal and the system didn’t malfunction once. 

Valkyrie AMR Pro

Like so much of the Valkyrie programme, the original intentions have been muddied by the practicalities of actually delivering cars. So this really is a stillborn racing car that should have been wailing around Le Mans beyond 200mph. It was supposed to be an amphetamine laced version of the road car. The Pro is now simpler and less of a technology statement. It’s an engine, a gearbox, a load of carbon and some conventional suspension – albeit the very latest dampers from the geniuses at Multimatic.

The result is a car that rather shattered my expectations. I’m not a fan of track-only supercars because they are almost always inferior to a non-racing racecar. But the difference here is that I can’t think of a racing car that produces this much downforce, and has a 1,001bhp naturally aspirated V12, so you can’t replicate the experience elsewhere. 

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Once the eerie start procedure is sorted the V12 yelps into life and then it’s simply a case of snicking gears with the paddles behind the wheel. It’s a magnificent engine, a thing to savour and drink in at every opportunity. The power arrives smoothly and is well matched to the available traction, the throttle travel is long and it takes a few minutes to have the confidence to push down to the stop. 

The Pro effectively bump starts itself every time it gets going

A weeny racing steering wheel has rotary knobs for traction control and all manner of other racy bits. It runs a Michelin racing slick tyre. It’s hard to test a racing car chassis objectively because in reality you’re merely testing the set-up applied to the vehicle for that test session – and the title of this session was ‘journalist we don’t want crashing our £3.5m car’. So there was some safe understeer.

But the rest was a joy. The crazy braking potential, the silly medium to high speed cornering forces, and that never-ending V12 music which left my face contorted with delight. It is one of the most special motor cars I’ve had the pleasure to drive, and I suspect a few will find their way onto the public highway.

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It also exists as a potential thorn in the side of the road car because the bits it does demonstrably better – handle, brake, steer – are all down to it being much simpler. It doesn’t have to tolerate a slow gearchange and the engine vibrations through the tub are vastly reduced.

And, to settle the inevitable comparison, it is faster too. Ollie Marriage and I went side by side, the Pro caught and passed the road car. Not with ease, but it still got the job done.  

Photography: Mark Fagelson

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